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Boston cardinal weighs in on admission of lesbians couple’s child to Catholic school

Catholic World News - May 20, 2010

Referring to a recent controversy over whether to admit a child raised by a lesbian couple to a Catholic school, Cardinal Seán O’Malley of Boston praised everyone involved for having the good of the child at heart and said that the archdiocese was beginning to formulate policies to address the question.

“Catholic schools exist for the good of the children and our admission standards must reflect that,” Cardinal O’Malley wrote on his blog. “We have never had categories of people who were excluded … While there are legitimate reasons that might lead to a decision not to admit a child, I believe all would agree that the good of the child must always be our primary concern.”

He continued:

As you might know, St. Paul School in Hingham has been at the center of a matter that was widely reported on recently, involving a child of same sex parents who wanted their child to attend the school. One of the very unfortunate results of the public reporting on the issue was undue criticism of Father James Rafferty who is pastor at St. Paul Parish, and who I consider one of our finest pastors. He made a decision about the admission of the child to St. Paul School based on his pastoral concern for the child. I can attest personally that Father Rafferty would never exclude a child to sanction the child’s parents. After consulting with the school principal, exercising his rights as pastor, he made a decision based on an assessment of what he felt would be in the best interest of the child. I have great admiration for Fr. Rafferty; he has my full confidence and support.

In Boston we are beginning to formulate policies and practices to deal with these complex pastoral matters. In all of our decision making, our first concern is the welfare of the children involved. With that in mind, the essence of what we are looking at is the question of how do we make Catholic schools available to children who come from diverse, often unconventional households, while ensuring the moral theology and teachings of the Church are not compromised? It is true that we welcome people from all walks of life. But we recognize that, regardless of the circumstances involved, we maintain our responsibility to teach the truths of our faith, including those concerning sexual morality and marriage. We need to present the Church’s teachings courageously and yet in a way that is compassionate and persuasive.

The Archdiocese of Denver has formulated a policy that calls into question the appropriateness of admitting the children of same-sex couples. It is clear that all of their school policies are intended to foster the welfare of the children and fidelity to the mission of the Church. Their positions and rationale must be seriously considered.

I want to also recognize the work of Dr. Mary Grassa O’Neill, Secretary for Education. She was respectful of all the people involved in this matter and showed leadership in attempting to resolve the matter as was within her responsibilities as Superintendent of Catholic Schools in the Archdiocese.

There were no easy decisions made and all the people involved approached this from the same perspective: the pastoral care and best interests of the child.

Going forward, we will be consulting on these issues with a wide-range of people including the Presbyteral Council and Archdiocesan Pastoral Council. We will work to develop policies and procedures to guide our faithfully carrying on the mission of our Catholic Schools to serve children and to do so with the heart of Christ.

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Show 8 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: extremeCatholic - May. 22, 2010 12:49 PM ET USA

    This is already a victory for the homosexual agenda: Each time a discussion of homosexuality occurs apart from a focus its immorality but as something that divides the Church, or requires a response from the Church, it becomes another step towards regarding homosexuality, like remarriage after divorce and artificial contraception, as mere "lifestyles". However different in character, since in this case the parents are openly homosexual and took the initiative with their child.

  • Posted by: Defender - May. 21, 2010 1:56 PM ET USA

    The cardinal is doing what every politician does....study the problem.

  • Posted by: Juan - May. 21, 2010 2:07 AM ET USA

    so what is the Cardinal going to actually do?

  • Posted by: vpereda471205 - May. 20, 2010 10:08 PM ET USA

    I also can't help but wonder why a lesbian couple would even consider enrolling their child into a Catholic School if assuming that they are aware of the Church's teaching on the issues of homosexuality. I think there are underlying motives.

  • Posted by: Chestertonian - May. 20, 2010 7:48 PM ET USA

    And, I ask again: why would a practicing lesbian couple want to enroll 'their' child in a Catholic school, knowing, I presume, what the Church teaches about their behavior? I have to seriously doubt that these women have the best interests of the child at heart, but suggest, rather, that they are using the child to push their agenda to weaken the Church's position on this issue, incrementally.

  • Posted by: Defender - May. 20, 2010 3:36 PM ET USA

    What of the "best interests" of the other students at the school? Who has their best interests at-heart? Are the "parents" banned from attending school functions, etc? If not, wouldn't that "give scandal?" That doesn't seem to be said very often anymore.

  • Posted by: Cornelius - May. 20, 2010 11:03 AM ET USA

    I'm glad the Cardinal gave strong supporting words for Fr. Rafferty, who has not been treated well by other diocesan officials.

  • Posted by: kman - May. 20, 2010 9:06 AM ET USA

    Since baptism is for the good of the child, I suppose the bishop, using his own logic, will begin baptizing children whose parnets do not care to raise them as Catholic.

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